CANTON, Ohio – Doug Pederson had few situations Thursday to display a coaching philosophy and a personal mindset that is as fearless as they come in professional football.
Perhaps the best example of such aggressiveness in Pederson's first game as the Jaguars' head coach – a 27-11 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Thursday's Hall of Fame Game – came at the end of the first quarter with the Raiders leading, 6-0.
The Jaguars' most productive drive of the night stalled at the Las Vegas 42. Conventional football wisdom says to send punter Logan Cooke out and pin the Raiders on their goal line. Pederson opted for kicker Ryan Santoso to try a 60-yard field goal instead. The kick had plenty of distance, but Santoso missed right missed.
However, Pederson had made his point.
"I talk to the team all the time and I'm going to continue to put them in situations so that they understand that we're going to have an aggressive mindset as we go," Pederson said. "We're going to be smart about it but we're going to go for it and be aggressive."
The Jaguars' offense was only on the field for 9:41 in the first half, so it was not surprising their running game looked lackluster with 59 yards on 16 rushes. The defense, though, sounded a few more alarms allowing Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, Ameer Abdullah and Zamir White to get free for substantial runs and a few field-flipping screens.
Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell can't be pleased by a unit that allowed nearly five yards per carry, clearly struggling at the line of scrimmage.
"That's something we have to take pride in," Pederson said. "We have to be able to run the football and stop the run and I think those are the two things that kind of stood out to me in this football game. Even against our starters on defense, there were a few significant runs and a few screens where we missed a few tackles. All things that are correctable, all things that we have to work on in practice so we can move forward."
Jaguars offensive tackle Walker Little on working at right tackle after starting three games at left tackle as a rookie last season: "I feel really good over there. It's a little bit of an adjustment moving from left to right, but a lot of really good players have been helping me and the coaches have done a good job with me. I feel really comfortable."
Rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, after registering a sack and a pressure in his first NFL preseason game: "I know who I am and I know what kind of player I can be so this is something I just have to build on. I just have to get one percent better every day."